The Institute today announced that its Social Venture Fund has participated in a Series AA round of financing for Loveland Technologies, a Detroit -based social web mapping company. The Social Venture Fund was part of a syndicate of investors.
The Social Venture Fund, the nation’s first student-led impact investing fund, makes early-stage investments of up to $100,000 in sustainable and innovative, for-profit organizations that deliver financial returns and place the generation of a significant social impact at the heart of their mission. The Fund is managed by a team of approximately 30 MBA students, many of whom are pursing dual-degrees with education, environment, health, law and public policy, along with faculty advisor Uday Rajan, a professor of finance at Ross. It focuses its investments in four key areas, or circles: education, food systems and environment, health and urban revitalization.
Loveland Technologies, an investment in the Fund’s urban revitalization circle, is dedicated to putting America online parcel by parcel as a way to address urban economic development issues. Working with governments, neighborhood groups, development and conservation projects, the company aggregates and analyzes public information about property and makes it easily accessible to the public through an online platform and supporting apps, such as mapping tools. The company’s Blexting mobile app, for example, powered Motor City Mapping, which cataloged the condition of every piece of property in the city of Detroit with the hope of removing abandoned houses and salvaging lots as a highly-visible step toward a broader recovery. Earlier this year, Loveland was named to Fast Company’s list of the “World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Local.”
A team of seven students, led by Perry Teicher, JD/MBA ’15, and Nydia Cardenas, MBA ’15, sourced the deal and conducted in-depth due diligence on the company. “The Social Venture Fund was one of the biggest factors that drew me to Ross, and this experience exceeded even my highest expectations,” said Cardenas. “Leading my peers through the due diligence process was a big challenge but also a tremendous growth opportunity because it allowed me to build a new skill set.”
The team determined Loveland would be a strong investment for the Fund due to not only the positive impact that Loveland’s tools and services could have on Detroit, but also how they could be applied to other cities. As part of the investment, students will work closely with Loveland’s executive team and its other investors to build out specific social metrics and supporting financial models.
“Loveland first caught our attention because of its local ties and the interesting urban revitalization work they are doing right in our backyard,” said Teicher. “But what made the company a viable investment for the Social Venture Fund was the implications its technology could have beyond Detroit. The student team took the lead on analyzing how Loveland’s tools and services could be applied to future cities and what the long-term impact of that work may be. We really had to dig deep into the model given its complexity, but it was a very intellectually stimulating process.”
The Social Venture Fund is a leader in university-based impact investing, with several active investments. Most recently, the Fund participated in a bridge financing round for Powerhouse Dynamics, a cloud-based provider of enterprise energy and asset management solutions, in April. The Social Venture Fund is part of Ross’ trifecta of student-led funds, which also includes the Wolverine Venture Fund and Zell Commercialization Fund. Together, these funds immerse 90 graduate students, from multiple disciplines, in experiencing all aspects of venture capital investing.